Tributes paid to two competitors killed during a motor rally in Co Sligo

  • Our correspondent Mark McFadden reports.

Tributes have been paid to two competitors who were killed during a motor rally in Co Sligo on Sunday.

The men have been named as Gene McDonald, aged 35 from Co Cavan, and Daire Maguire, aged 46 from Co Fermanagh.

The driver and co-driver were killed after their car crashed into a wall at the sixth stage of the Sligo States Rally on Sunday afternoon, shortly after 3pm.

Organisers of the event, Connacht Motor Club, halted the event and a serious incident protocol was activated.

The governing body for the sport Motorsport Ireland said it would carry out a full investigation into the double tragedy, alongside the Garda investigation.

Gardai are appealing for images or videos of the incident to be removed from social media and made available to the authorities, and asked that people refrain from sharing any images or videos of the incident on messaging apps.

Motorsport Ireland has extended its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the two competitors.

Its sporting manager Art McCarrick said that competitor safety was at the forefront of their operations, but that fatal accidents can happen in any sport.

“It’s a very difficult and dark day for our sport,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

He said that they weren’t sure if road conditions was a factor, but said there was “a full running of that stage previously without any incident” as part of the third stage.

“They were both experienced competitors. The driver had over 15 years’ experience and the co-driver had over 20 years’ experience. And both regular competitors in the border, midland and west region and well-respected.”

Cavan Motor Club extended its “deepest sympathies” to the families and friends of its club member Mr McDonald, and to the loved ones of Mr Maguire.

“Both Gene and Daire were highly regarded in the sport, and their friendly manner knew no bounds,” it said.

“The motorsport family will gather to support all those involved and affected by this tragedy.

“May the kind souls of Gene and Daire rest eternally in peace. ‘Til we meet again.”

A Facebook page dedicated to the past pupils at Ballagh and Donagh Primary School offered its “sincere condolences” to Mr Maguire’s family.

“May he rest in peace. Thinking of Eamon, Bernie, Catherine, Conor, Eamon Jnr, his wife Breda & children and the extended families. Such heartbreaking news,” it said.

Retail company Cadco NI paid tribute to their colleague Mr Maguire and offered sympathies to his family.

“Daire was one of life’s true gentlemen, a highly respected member of staff by both customers and colleagues and will be missed immensely by all,” a statement posted to Facebook said.

“On behalf of everyone at Cadco, we offer Daire’s wife and our colleague Breda, his children Megan and Christopher and his wider family and friends our most sincere condolences and sympathy at this difficult time.”

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